MANILA, Philippines – Here’s good news to history buffs out there.
The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), in partnership with the Fort Bonifacio Development Corp (FBDC), is planning to develop and rehabilitate a little known Fort Bonifacio War Tunnel into a heritage site.
Located in the eastern portion of the Bonifacio Global City, the tunnel dates back to the American colonial period. It was first dug up in the early 1900s and eventually constructed during World War II, under the directive of General Douglas MacArthur, to serve as military headquarters and storage of war supplies.
The original tunnel’s length was about 2.24 kilometers with 32 built-in chambers and two passable exits, one leading to Barangay Pembo and the other to Barangay East Remo.
Today, a 730-meter segment of the tunnel remains unaffected by construction activities in the area. It still exists underneath the C-5 Road, with its opening near the Market! Market!
Giving the city a soul
BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Paciano Casanova said the project aims to contribute to the people’s understanding and appreciation of the history of the former military camp.
Casanova said there is a need to preserve the heritage and promote the history that once played a vital role in regaining back our freedom and democracy. He said preserving the heritage of Fort Bonifacio and incorporating its heritage and history in the development of BGC is what makes BGC a cut above other cities.
He also hopes the project would contribute to the country’s tourism industry, which he said, plays a significant part in stimulating economic growth.
“Bonifacio Global City, is the fastest growing commercial, business and residential district in the country today. It is the home of passionate minds,” Casanova pointed out. “Equally important is the rich history that is incorporated in BGC’s development—giving it a soul.”
The Fort Bonifacio tunnel is not the only heritage site the BCDA plans to rehabilitate and develop.
Casanova noted that each of the economic zones of BCDA has a rich and unique history that can play a part in promoting the country’s heritage and culture.
Aside from the former Metro Manila military camps that were converted into business districts, the BCDA governs the former Clarkfield Airbase, which the state agency turned into the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.
In Bataan, BCDA converted the former camp of war refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia into what is now the Bataan Technology Park in Morong.
The former US military rest and recreation facility, Camp John Hay is now Baguio’s premier tourist and investment destination, and the former Wallace Station, now the Poro Point Freeport Zone in San Fernando La Union.
Building beautiful cities
The conversion of the Fort Bonifacio tunnel into a heritage site is seen to promote appreciation of Fort Bonifacio’s history—from the time of the American colonial period to the time of the implementation of the Bases Conversion Program, which gave rise to world-class communities like the Bonifacio Global City (BGC).
Casanova said the project is “part of giving back the honor and dignity to our soldiers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. They are the unsung heroes of our republic, who are continually serving the Filipino people to maintain peace and order in our nation.”
BCDA’s program of converting former US military bases into economic zones earn revenues for the government, and a lion’s share is given to the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“We have a mandate to build beautiful cities,” Casanova stated, underscoring BCDA’s achievements in converting former US military lands into business districts and economic zones. “Part of the beauty of each city is its history. And we aim to preserve the rich legacy in all the sites that we develop,” he added. – Rappler.com